Barnabas Mwindula is a motivated 25-year-old young man. He grew up as one of six children born to a tailor and homemaker. After completing Grade 12 he pursued a diploma in electronic engineering at Zambia Air Services Training Institute. Financial shortfalls led Barnabas to RecycloCraftz when he heard about it from a friend who was also involved in the project. He was able to earn enough money to purchase food and books for his schooling. After three years of study, an unknown classmate stole a copy of the final exam and the school refused to graduate ANY of the students. Without recourse, he returned home five hours to the north and entered school again for another three years, then graduated successfully. In 2017 he returned to Lusaka, became the trusted, encouraging Project Manager for RecycloCraftz and moved into the ministry center house. He also assumed leadership roles at church.
Soon his character led him into a position of leadership in ZAFES – Zambian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, an outreach to university students. He now serves as the Zambian National Director of the program.
In 2021, he got married and his wife joined him at the ministry center where he will teach her to sew. He also enrolled in seminary. A man must be married to become a pastor in a church in Zambia. He still juggles his RecycloCraftz responsibilities, his leadership roles at ZAFES and at church, his passion for prison outreach and production of RecycloCraftz products.
He has benefitted greatly from the microloan opportunities and raises chickens for sale. He also purchased a small plot of land where he grows corn to dry as the staple food source for himself, his wife and to share with others.
Beatrice Banda is 52 years old, married, has five children ranging in age from 15 to 24, three stepchildren ages 27, 30 and 32 years old. She and her husband are also raising her 15-year-old niece and 12-year-old nephew who are double orphans. She attends the University Seventh Day Adventist Church.
She completed her education through grade nine and runs a katemba. Before RecycloCraftz she grew flowers for income and crushed stone. Stone crushing is an extremely hazardous job that requires the crusher to pound large pieces of stone into gravel. She no longer has to crush stone and instead sells tomatoes, fritters, vegetables and charcoal.
She taught artisans how to cut bags and crochet before she herself joined RecycloCraftz as an artisan. With a sponsorship she would be able to consistently provide for her family while working toward the goal of building a grocery storefront in her home. Her RecycloCraftz income allows her to pay for her children’s school fees. Her favorite thing to make is handbags.
Cecillia grew up as the 6th child in a family of ten children. Completing an education as a female in Zambia was out of the question, especially in a large family. As an adult, she found out about the RecycloCraftz program at church and her husband encouraged her to pursue it. She had already completed a course in Food Production, yet she had higher aspirations. In 2017, at 26 years old, she graduated from high school with two young children of her own. With her husband’s partnership, she continued to create a stable financial environment at home with meager earnings from food production. Her RecycloCraftz earnings blessed her family and the savings program allowed her to put money away for an electric hand mixer, something she learned about in her classes, but only dreamed of owning. With the purchase of that tool she generated more income.
In 2018, with her two young children well cared and enrolled in consistent schooling she began to pursue her longtime dream. She enrolled in nursing school! In 2021, she successfully graduated from the program thanks to the help of RecycloCraftz.
Cecellia dreams now of owning a nice home from which her children can reach their educational dreams.
Clara Makawire is the 25 year old daughter of Evelyn Garakara and is Roman Catholic. She completed school through grade twelve. Clara and her infant daughter live with her mother, maternal aunt and her aunt’s daughter. She joined her mother and sister as artisans in 2013. Her favorite thing to make is linings. RecycloCraftz has helped teach her to sew and reduce financial struggles.
She dreams of going to tailoring school and opening her own clothing boutique. With a sponsorship she would be able to send her daughter to school.
Elizabeth Chanda is 45 years old, married for 26 years and has five children ages 24, 21, 11, 9, and 6 years old. Her mother-in-law and an orphaned nephew live with Elizabeth and her family. She was making paper bead necklaces as a hobby when her friend Catherine Mwape found out and introduced her to RecycloCraftz. The paper beads are still her favorite thing to make although she has since branched out by making magazine bowls. Besides making bags and necklaces for RecycloCraftz, she also has a trading and resale business.
Her long term dream is to run a school for underprivileged children. She used to work as a teacher and has a teaching certificate in early childhood education. Her husband is a secondary teacher at a Catholic school. RecycloCraftz has given her a passion to create, try new things and has helped financially. If she was sponsored she would use the money to grow her business selling by bedding from Botswana.
Elizabeth says she faces spiritual challenges in leading women and gets discouraged at times. But her biggest prayer is that she should work for the Lord. She is secretary and treasurer of RecycloCraftz.
Evelyn Garakara (RIP 2020)Evelyn was one of the original RecycloCraftz members. She was always optimistic and encouraging despite the challenges she faced in her own life. She never progressed in school past the 10th grade. She got pregnant and had to drop out of school. She was married twice and both husbands preceded her in death. Two of her own eight children, plus one of her grandchildren also died before she did.
Despite all this sorrow Evelyn was full of joy. She benefitted from being a part of RecycloCraftz. She learned much from the Bible studies, she added to her income and it helped pay for her electricity and buy food staples. Her compassionate spirit led her to help many others in the ghetto compound where she lived. She was part of a program that aided the neediest to get shoes and books and funds to pay for school. Evelyn’s two adult daughters, Carol and Clara Makuwire, both single moms, are a part of the program and continue to benefit even though mom is gone.
In her last years Evelyn was housebound. The RecycloCraftz Medical Fund helped her get physical therapy and pain medication. She was thankful for all those in the ministry who became her friends; some even carried the products she made at home to the ministry center gatherings to be sold Her cheerful smile will always be remembered. “I am very grateful for this ministry, very, very grateful. We should thank God for helping us through this program. To the people in America- a big thank you to the ones who are selling and the ones who are buying.”
Evelyn died peacefully in 2020.
Ireen Chilangwa is 16 years old. Like many high school students, she has big dreams of attending college. She wants to be a lawyer, or psychologist, or maybe both! But Ireen lives in a poor family in Zambia, and some of her siblings have not been able to even graduate high school, much less pursue advanced degrees. However, Ireen can continue to dream big dreams – thanks to RecycloCraftz, she can pay her school fees. Every year she can afford to stay in school is one year closer to her dreams.
Ireen came to the RecycloCraftz project almost by accident, when her mother Mary Mwanga was unable to bring completed handbags. Instead Ireen came, was invited to stay, and has been part of it ever since. She is one of many children. She loves her family very much, especially her mother, who has cared for them all since her father passed away in 2007. Her nieces always put a smile on her face.
Besides attending school and making handbags Ireen’s honesty and dependability has singled her and her sister, Wendy, out as the bookkeepers in the project as well as liners for the handbags. Ireen has devoted many long hours to seeing that the bags are finished and ready to be shipped to the US.
Ireen is active in her church, singing in the Divine Faith choir at Winner’s Chapel. She loves dancing. Ireen also has a mind open to learning new things and finding out about other cultures.
Pray for Ireen, that she will have wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Pray for success as she dreams big dreams – that, thanks to RecycloCraftz, are just a little more possible.
Karen Chilangwa is a 24-year-old single mother to a baby girl. She lives at home with her mother Mary Mwanga and siblings. Her family is her top priority. Like her sisters, her mother first introduced her to the Recyclocraftz project. At first, she helped other family members with their handbags – helping her mother crochet or pitching in when Ireen needed a hand. Later, she asked to join the project herself.
Karen’s income from Recyclocraftz helps her family in many ways. It has allowed her younger brothers to stay in school. Karren herself has not finished high school, although she is hopeful that the handbag project may someday bring in enough income for her to go back to school. However, the basics come first – Recyclocraftz helps pay the rent and electricity for the home where Karren lives with her baby girl, mother, and siblings.
Pray for Karen, that her family will have enough to meet their basic needs and possibly enough for her own education.
Kelvin Mwanza is 27 years old. He was born second to last of 9 siblings; two of them have died already. Kelvin never knew his father, but helps support his 65-year-old mother while she works on and off as a nanny. His mother supports five orphaned cousins and five orphaned nieces and nephews. A few of Kelvin’s siblings also work to help support the family. Kelvin was educated in the capital city of Lusaka, but became too sick with Tuberculosis to finish his grade 12 exams.
After Kelvin’s health improved, he began to do artwork in hopes of earning money to return to school. His mother’s boss was an art teacher at the American school crafting wire figures and paintings. The teacher became interested in Kelvin’s work and encouraged him to sell it. At 19 Kelvin began selling his artwork in the Dutch Reformed Craft Market. A Baptist woman saw a nativity he designed and now people are copying his designs and Kelvin is earning a good income. Kelvin employs a number of orphaned to keep up with the demand for his artwork. Because of Kelvin’s artistic success, he is able to move forward and support himself. He dreams of having a big home where he can help orphans and aid them in developing their talents in art. Kelvin already has people asking for help but has no place to teach them.
RecycloCraftz is helping Kelvin to make his dream possible.
Linda is 35 years old and a mother to three children. She was married for twelve years before she and her husband divorced. Linda was introduced to our project by a friend and has been making bags for over two years. RecycloCraftz has been helpful to Linda by providing funds for transportation and purchasing food; it also supplements the irregular child support monies she receives from the father of her children. Linda is grateful that she has learned to crochet and make bags. Although she completed her 12th grade education she never had any formal employment.
Linda would appreciate prayers so she could become more powerful and committed towards God’s work. She would also like prayer for her children that they would come to know Christ, and that she would be able to provide school funds for her children’s education.
Josina Muvwanga is a 52 year old mother and grandmother. Together with her husband, she has raised five children and now helps care for eight grandchildren. One of her children and two of her grandchildren still live with Josina and her husband.
Josina works in an orphanage, caring for Zambia’s children who have lost their parents in the AIDS epidemic. Mrs Murray and her children visited that orphanage regularly to read and share the Gospel with the orphans. When Mrs Murray saw Josina crocheting, she realized that she would be an excellent asset to bring on board with the RecycloCraftz project. Not only did she possess beautiful crocheting skills and the ability to teach others, she also was a Godly woman with a passion for prayer that helps sustain the ministry. She has become a trusted friend and adviser, bringing an ability to help Tracy share with the women when triumphs and challenges come along. The money Josina makes from crocheting handbags helps pay the tuition for one of her daughters, who is in college. It also helps put food on the table where three generations gather to eat every day.
Josina has cared for not only her own children and grandchildren, but also orphaned children. Her prayer is that the money she earns from RecycloCraftz will enable her to continue caring for those that God brings across her path.
Martha Phiri has five children ages, 26, 24, 20, 17 and 9 years old. She went to school through grade nine. She attends Shepard Place Pentecostal Church. Martha used to crochet other things and one of the people she knew told her about RecycloCraftz when it was an early start-up. She became one of RecycloCraftz’s first artisans making beautiful multicolored purses from plastic grocery bags. Her purses became prototypes for many future creations.
Martha’s favorite thing to make is jewelry, especially the seed and glass bead bracelets. Headbands and patchworks are second place favorites. She used to have a tailoring shop but business was slow so she had to close. She dreams of buying a house and a car and would love to be a electrician. With sponsorship she would be able to help buy food for her family.
Mary Daka’s father was supposed to be king of a rural village in Ndola but he ran away without any belongings because he didn’t want to go through the rituals. When the king dies they bury four to five people alive then lay the dead king on top of them. His younger brother became king and the family wanted him to run away too. If Mary’s father ever came back he would have been killed. Her father’s parents became born again Christians after he ran away.
Mary got married when she was 16 years old and completed school through grade twelve. She is now a 50 year old widow with two adult daughters and a 13 year old granddaughter living with her in a two room house. She had six pregnancies including twins (a boy and girl) who died suddenly at 3 years old. Her 35 year old son lives in Kitwe with his wife. Her 35 year old daughter owns a restaurant in City Market. A 33 year old son is a married missionary in Angola. Her youngest daughter is 25 years old and working on a four year teaching degree.
In 2000 when she was traveling by bus at night, the bus was hit by a truck and rolled over. Some people died; her leg was crushed and had to be amputated. She attends the Assembly of God Church twice a week where she has had mission and marriage counseling training. She has a Bible and reads to her granddaughter every day. Her pastor uses her as an example. “Look at her. She has lost her leg, but you have your body parts and are not working.” Mary says “I have educated my four children. Look at me. I have come up. You can stop begging.”
She learned about RecycloCraftz from Catherine Mwape who then introduced it to Elizabeth Chanda. Before RecycloCraftz Mary worked as secretary for a travel agent. Before her husband died she built a very big four bedroom house without his knowledge of it. She sold it after his 2001 death so she could send her children to school. To pay her rent she used to make jerseys but stopped getting orders when she had no capital to buy yarn. Her goal is to make jerseys again. She wants to make more quilts and is currently using her friend’s industrial sewing machine. She would like to teach other vulnerable women how to make crafts. RecycloCraftz has helped her buy things for her house, buy food, get crutches and learn new skills. She would like to buy a plot of land in Lusaka.
Mary Mwanga is the 51-year-old matriarch of a large family, many of whom are involved in the RecycloCraftz handbag program (see the bios of her daughters Ireen, Karren, Wendy, and Christabel Chilangwa.) Her husband passed away in 2007. At that time, his family clan enacted a Zambian practice known as “property grabbing”, leaving his widow and children with almost nothing in their home. They moved from their village of Mufulira to the city of Lusaka, hoping for a better life there – but little improved.
Since the move to Lusaka, Mary Mwanga and her family have had no steady income. At times, they have been unable to pay for basic costs of living, such as rent and electricity. School fees for her children became a luxury. Some of her older children were unable to finish high school.
Thanks to RecycloCraftz, Mary Mwanga and her family have hope! She and 4 of her daughters all make handbags, pitching in to help one another if one falls behind or gets sick. The income they bring in helps keep a roof over their heads and the lights on. It also pays for the school fees for the younger children: her 16 year old with big dreams, Ireen, and some of her sons.
Right now, the widow Mary shoulders the burden of caring for a family that includes her own children, some of their babies, a couple of orphans, and her aged mother back in her home village. Mary Mwanga and her family dream of a place to call their own. The income she and her daughters bring in from the RecycloCraftz project is enabling them to build their own home – where they will no longer have to spend so much money each month paying rent. RecycloCraftz turns trash into handbags, and Mary turns handbags into cement for her family’s home. Each month she and her daughters can sell handbags is another building block of their future – the literal blocks of cement in their home‘s walls, the blocks of education for her younger children, and the blocks of spiritual encouragement for a destitute and struggling family.
Pray for Mary and her large family – for a physical home as well as spiritual shelter. One handbag can make so much of a difference for them!
Mary Shamwete is 50 years old, has been married for twenty eight years, has four children, three grand children and is raising two orphaned nephews with her husband. She completed grade seven but didn’t have money for progression to grade eight. Her daughters completed school through grade nine and her sons completed high school. She attends Bible classes as well as the Catholic Church in Kamanga twice a week and longs to know more about God’s word so she can teach others. She serves on the church’s liturgical committee member and is treasurer of the womens’ group.
Mary first heard of RecycloCraftz in 2009 when she became a member of the development committee. She brought ten friends to that committee with her. One of her friends made doormats and was invited to learn how to crochet bags. She and her friends decided to join together. These artisans are Jennifer Njbovu, Mary Mwanga, Linda Miti, Claudia Chifundo, Beatrice Banda and Jane Chikatula. Her favorite things to make are magazine bowls and fluffy bags.
Before RecycloCraftz she sold her hand made door mats, platted hair and crushed stone. Stone crushing is an extremely hazardous job that requires the crusher to pound large pieces of stone into gravel. She runs a katemba selling beans, charcoal, fritters, cooking oil, sugar, and snacks. She dreams of buying goats for her farm in Chasamba. On the farm which is a three hour round trip; she grows maize, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cassava, and beans. She wants to keep living in Lusaka and visiting her farm on weekends and during harvest.
RecycloCraftz has helped her to learn new crafts, sew on a sewing machine and buy cement. With sponsorship she would be able to buy household materials, school supplies and clothes for the orphaned nephews that she is raising. Her goals are to complete grade twelve, bring water into her house, build a wall fence, improve her farming business and travel to fish.
Patricia Nyirenda lives with her widowed mother, her husband, and their son and daughter. Her husband does tailoring in the Kamanga market. Before RecycloCraftz, her only source of income was from collecting glass bottles for recycling. Patricia would pay children a little bit of money to bring her glass bottles, and she would turn them in for the deposit. Each bottle is worth only a few cents.
Patricia heard about RecycloCraftz from Mary Nankolowe, an active member. She learned to crochet by making the handbags. Selling handbags helps pay the bills when her husband doesn’t have much tailoring work. Now they can afford food, rent and lotion. It also enables her 9-year-old daughter to stay in school.
Patricia herself had to drop out of school after 5th grade, when her father passed away. RecycloCraftz has given her a chance to learn both English and the Bible. She is grateful for the chance to earn a living by making handbags.
Penelope Nyambe completed school through grade nine and has three children, ages 20, 17, and 13 years old. She attends Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Kamanga. She is a tailor who found out about RecycloCraftz when her friend, Patricia Nyrienda , invited her. Penelope’s favorite thing to make is patchwork sling bags. The income Penelope earns making handbags helps her provide for her family, especially with rent and school fees.
She dreams of building or buying a house. She wants all of her children to complete their education and even graduate from university. With sponsorship she would be able to pay for school fees and improve her tailoring business.
Wendy ChilangwaWendy Chilangwa is 26 years old, unmarried and lives with her mother and siblings. She completed school through grade twelve but wasn’t able to write her final exams. She runs a vegetable stand on the roadside by her house. Wendy attends Victory Christian Fellowship Pentecostal Church where she is an usher. She dreams of owning her own business or working in commercial farming. She found out about RecycloCraftz from her mother, Mary Mwanga. Her favorite thing to make is linings and chimbala bags which are bags made out of chitenge material that looks like patchwork. Wendy loves her family dearly and they are a top priority for her. All the money she makes from RecycloCraftz goes to help them. With sponsorship she would buy toiletries and airtime.
Bridget is 26 years old and married with two children ages 6 and 8. She and her husband are also responsible for the care and school fees for her twin brothers who were left orphaned after Bridget’s father died. In addition, they also care, for another nephew. Bridget dropped out of school in the ninth grade; her work with RecycloCraftz is her first job. Bridget heard about us from a friend who invited her to join. Bridget’s knitting skills helped her catch on quickly to crafting hand bags. Bridget’s income allows her to add to the income her husband makes as a taxi driver. Through the RecycloCraftz savings program Bridget is learning how to save for her money and budget for the future.
Prayer needs: “Pray that the handbag ministry expands that we be able to make more bags and have a greater income.”